Trust me when I tell you, we are a fair-weather family. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll take on the cold and snow, but when it comes to rain you’ll find us snuggled on the sofa watching movies and sipping on hot chocolate.
Seeing the weather forecast for our planned day out to Hobbledown was rather devastating. We decided to pull up our big girl pants and get on with it in the hope that the weather people may be wrong and it would hold out for us.
Of course, it didn’t but we still managed to have an enjoyable visit. Hobbledown had kindly gifted us our tickets for this day out to come along and see what safety measures had been put in place and go on a mystical adventure.
Hobbledown is in Epsom, Surrey which is less than an hour from our house. It was another attraction we have never been to before.
At the moment there are six different time slots to choose from and you can stay up to four hours only. If it’s a really quiet day then you won’t be asked to leave and due to the weather making it a less busy day, we were able to stay the entire day. Hobbledown opens at 8:30 am and closes at 5:30 pm. We chose to arrive for their 10-11 am time slot.
Entrance costs £18 for a morning slot or an added £2 each if you are doing the high ropes. The price decreases if you arrive later in the day which I thought was quite good, especially if you live locally.
The biggest mistake of the day that I made was that I didn’t bring wellies. However, we did have waterproof clothing in the back of the car which was put to great use during our wet day out.
On arrival, I was pleased to find lots of social distancing signs and sanitiser. The staff give you a coloured wristband for each of us and a leaflet which had their new safety measures, a menu and map on. We were also asked if we wanted to use the soft play. Soft plays in the UK have only just been opened so we weren’t sure, the staff handed us a little ticket which would enable us to enter if we chose to.
Whilst Hubby was busy trying to book a dinner reservation for after our day out, I went inside the Courtyard Play Village with the girls. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been so impressed by a sandpit play area.
It was mostly undercover so we had a bit of break from the rain (which poured the entire day may I add). The play area was also tidy and clean.
Freya, Eva and Elsa ran around freely without having to worry about social distancing as nobody was in the sandy area at this point. There are lots of interactive areas, different levels to climb and even some dark tunnels too. I think they would have been more than happy here the entire day but we moved on to explore the rest of Hobbledown.
For those who didn’t know, Hobbledown is also a children’s fantasy book so the Hobbledown farm has a theme running through it based upon that story. We’ve ordered it online but you can buy it at the farm for £7.95. I’m excited to get my hands on it when it arrives and find out more about Hobbledown and the characters involved.
As we wandered round to see some of the animals at Hobbledown, I noticed that there was a lot of areas to sit and enjoy a picnic or watch your children play.
The grounds were also extremely well cared for and everything seemed either new or immaculate. Hubby and I were impressed.
Hobbledown has many walkthrough enclosures. I do love a walkthrough enclosure because it feels like you can get closer to the animals. the pathways are wide so I can imagine on a busy day, it would still be very easy to social distance.
At this moment in time, a face covering is required to go through the Lemur enclosure if you are aged 11 years and above. At first, I didn’t understand why as it’s obviously outside and they were only allowing one household into the enclosure at a time. Of course, I still wore mine to follow the rules and once inside the wonderful keeper explained that Lemurs can catch Coronavirus which made absolute sense.
I think the word “wow” was said too many times to count during our entire day at Hobbledown, especially in those moments of seeing everything for the very first time.
The Crystallite Mine was no exception. It was the most glorious sandpit play area I have ever seen, topping the first Courtyard Play Village by a mile.
This area would be perfect on a hot summers day as there’s a mix of sand and water play. Later in the day, we realised we could turn a big totem pole and this made the water flow in various areas of the Crystallite Mine.
I just had to include this photo of Freya. She slid down the slide much faster than any of us expected and landed straight in a puddle. This is where I said earlier that we could have done with some wellies as her trainers got quite soaked.
The Crystallite Mine has so much going on that ignites both child and adult imaginations. It felt like each way we turned there were new things to uncover and explore like tunnels and caves.
Elsa particularly loved the interactive areas with different bits to play with. There was a vet area, a pub and so many more things to explore. As a parent, I appreciated that everything within those little areas was attached to the walls or shelves etc meaning that nothing could go missing and it could always be enjoyed fully.
We then headed over to the next play areas which were Fern’s Castle and Hobbledown Village.
I didn’t think that Elsa or Freya would enjoy going up inside the Hobbledown Village as it involved lots of aerial walkways or caged tunnels as I liked to call them. It’s not suitable for children under the age of 5 as it requires quite a bit of skill to navigate them.
Eva loved finding the underground tunnels, this was not for the faint-hearted as it was pitch black down there. All three girls went under with my phone torch and loved it!
We all then moved over to Fern’s Castle, a huge play area with slides and tunnels galore.
I can imagine better weather would make these play equipment rather busy but thanks to the rain, it was very easy for our girls to run around freely just how they used to before the world was turned on its head.
In this area, there are also High Ropes. Eva was desperate to have a go but sadly you have to be 1.3 metres tall and Eva was only 1.25 metres. She watched on eagerly and hopes she’ll be tall enough to have a go the next time we visit. The High Ropes look pretty awesome.
Somehow we managed to prise the children away from their games to head back to the main entrance area for some lunch. I had packed some snacks with us but it was a Wednesday on our visit and Hobbledown are taking part in the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, meaning food is 50% off.
It was busier near Hobnosh restaurant but we managed to find a seat in the alfresco canopy area. Finally sheltered from the rain.
A big tip from me, if you are ordering during the Eat Out To Help Out scheme only order through the Hobbledown app as the staff seemed a bit confused by it all at the till.
The menu has mainly fries topped with certain things like fish goujons, macaroni, nuggets and more. Hubby and I opted for the Chicken Katsu Curry fries, Eva and Elsa shared an adults size nuggets and fries and Freya the child’s version.
The loaded fries cost just under £8 for an adult size and around £5 for children. It was quite expensive but we had 50% off so our lunch only cost £16.13 as we had two drinks added in too.
Our lunch was delicious. The portion sizes were very generous and we had some fries leftover.
As Hobbledown is a farm there are plenty of places to wash your hands regularly. They have also added in hand sanitisers throughout the farm so it was easy to keep hygienic.
We used the toilet facilities by the soft play a few times throughout the day and each time they were clean, tidy and well stocked of tissue and soap.
Whilst Hubby and I allowed our food to go down, the girls went back into the Courtyard Play Village. It was a little busier than earlier on in the day but it didn’t feel unsafe at all. The rain had slowed slightly at this point too but of course, picked up again when we needed to go back out in it.
After our lunch, we headed back through the farm animals and towards the back of Hobbledown.
There’s a pathway that leads along the outer area of Hobbledown and round into The Field Of Confusion. We got to see some pigs, alpaca and to my surprise two beautiful camels!
There would usually be Birds Of Prey too but it does say excluding Wednesday’s which was the day we visited so we didn’t get to see the birds.
In the Field Of Confusion, there were more fun things to explore including the Willow Maze and Zip Lines. There was quite a bit of a queue for the zip lines so we headed over to do the Zorbing.
It was a bit tricky getting inside the zorb inflatables whilst it was raining, but all three of the girls had a turn and loved running up and down the grass. I was pleasantly surprised to see the supervising staff member cleaning them in between visitors.
We then spent a rather long time back in the Crystallite Mine. Hobbledown had become quite empty at this point, I think it was about 4 pm and we had the sand play area to ourselves.
After a bit of thought about how we felt going into a soft play for the first time in six months, we decided to go for it. Hobbledown is significantly reducing the numbers inside the soft play and also put a 45-minute time limit too. Anyone over the age of 11 years must wear a face-covering too.
When we went in, the soft play only had about three other families in there. It was huge so was very easy to keep the distance and my girls are very good at social distancing now.
There are different sections to the Indoor Play Barn. You can see it’s a very different play experience with safety restrictions in place. The balls have been removed and many areas are closed like the tunnels and certain areas inside the soft play.
However, after not having a soft play experience for many months the girls didn’t notice the restrictions. They were just so happy to be there.
There were just two sad points about Hobbledown; the first was the rain. Hobbledown had no control over that and it surprisingly didn’t ruin our day at all. As long as you are appropriately dressed from head to foot, you can have the best adventure rain or shine. Obviously, for us, the shine would be preferred.
The second thing was the face-covering policy for the Indoor Play Barn. Anyone over the age of 11 years is required to wear a face-covering unless eating/drink (fair enough), or if you are accompanying your child inside the play equipment. I’m unsure what the government guidelines are for soft plays but it personally left me feeling a little unsafe and that my children could be at risk if they came across a non-masked adult whilst playing. I kept mine on the entire time and thankfully the soft play was not busy whilst we were using it.
We stayed in Hobbledown until nearly closing time. I’m struggling to find the words to describe just how awesome we found our time there. We are seriously considering membership which doesn’t happen often. The whole place is impressive from start to finish and we left rather soggy but full of joy!
I filmed our day out and I hope you’ll enjoy coming along with us to Hobbledown.